If there was ever a time for the Boilermakers to seize the moment, this is, most definitely, the season to do it! This may seem like “old news,” and that I am working toward an incredibly obvious conclusion, but a new factor has been added to the equation: Wisconsin is not nearly as good as they were believed to be.
As the season began, the assumption was that since Ohio State and Penn State would be ineligible for the Big Ten Championship game, the Leaders division already belonged to the Badgers. However, Wisconsin’s poor play and slow start have left the division wide open. Indiana and Illinois have practically taken themselves out of the running, as if either of them had a chance to begin with. But Purdue is in the position to challenge the underperforming Badgers.
For Wisconsin, the offensive line has not been nearly as good as we are used to seeing. In turn, they are not able to depend on only their running game as we have seen in the past. Joel Stave is better than people thought he would be, but his arm lacks zip and he has a one-track-mind, only looking for Jared Abbrederis. If a defense can stop the run, the passing game should not be hard to stop (i.e. second half of Nebraska game).
Much like Wisconsin, Purdue shows nothing incredibly special in their offense or defense, but they are a solid football team that is capable of winning some big games. Caleb TerBush is talented and skilled enough to lead the Boilermakers to a Big Ten championship game with Antavian Edison and O.J. Ross as go-to targets. Also, running backs Akeem Shavers and Akeem Hunt can fill the void, for a short time, if the Boilers’ passing game is not performing well.
The upcoming game between Wisconsin and Purdue in West Lafayette is by far the most important matchup for these two this season! Beyond that, Wisconsin and Purdue have yet to face Ohio State or Penn State. Finishing the conference schedule 5-3, or even 4-4 may be good enough for either of these two to get to the championship, with this game between the two being the tie-breaker.
Everybody thought this season was a given for the Badgers, but this is the time for Purdue. They will not have a better opportunity to win their division than this season. Wisconsin is the only team standing in their way. If they cannot take advantage of this opportunity, they may not have another one for a while. Wisconsin, on the other hand, will always be in the hunt. This season is a much bigger opportunity for Purdue and their program than it is for Wisconsin, and they have to play like it. This is the Boilermakers’ season!